redhead using iphone in summer field

Why I Love Instagram Stories (and what it means for bloggers)

This week, Instagram announced the launch of their new ‘Stories‘ feature, and the internet immediately freaked out about it.

At first, I dutifully joined in with the freaking-out, because it’s not often I manage to jump on board a bandwagon early enough to feel part of it, and seriously, Instagram: could you BE any more blatant in your copying of Snapchat? I feel like we should all be following you through the street, ringing a bell, and shouting, “SHAME! SHAME!” or something – it’s really THAT blatant, and also kind of cringeworthy to see such a huge platform essentially put its hands up and say, “Yeah, we’re all out of unique ideas, so we’re just gonna use someone else’s – ‘kay?”

For shame. (SHAME! SHAME!)

The whole time I was metaphorically ringing my bell (Terry took my real bell away from me, unfortunately…), and tut-tutting over it, however, there was a little part of me saying, “But Amber: you’re totally going to love this, and you know you are.” I tried to suppress that voice, but the next morning I woke up, and the first thing I did was to update Instagram on my phone, and then check it repeatedly to see if I had access to ‘Stories’ yet. And, after a few hours, I DID have access to Stories. And guys? I kind of love it.

I mean, yeah, sure, it must suck to be Snapchat right now, and there’s just no getting away from that, but at the same time, I have to admit, I’m much more likely to use this new Instagram feature: partly because I already have a following there, and it makes more sense to me to publish content to that existing audience, rather than trying to build a new one on yet another platform, but also because, as far as I can tell, this seems like a good compromise between the “staged” Instagram we have now, and the more candid Instagram of the past, which everyone seems to miss, but which no  one seems prepared to try to recover.

I include myself in that statement, by the way: I’ve done my fair share of complaining about how Instagram has chaaaaanged: about how it USED to be all about documenting your life, and sharing little behind-the-scenes snapshots, and now it’s all about “curating” the perfect feed, creating the perfect flatlay, and basically fictionalising your life, to the point where it’s barely even recognisable as YOUR life. I complain about that, but I still do it: I think we all do, and I don’t necessarily think there’s anything wrong with that.

red hair in the sun / addicted to Instagram

To be honest, I’ve been becoming increasingly frustrated by some of the complaints I’ve been reading about Instagram (and social media in general), and how “fake” it all is. Why do people expect gritty reality from social media, after all? I know I’ve talked about this before, but I think most of us at least try to present our best selves in public – even if that just means pulling a comb through our hair before leaving the house, or giving the living room a quick tidy when we know people are coming over. I don’t visit my friends and demand to see their messy cupboards, or expect them to open the door in their PJs, so why would I expect people to air their dirty linen on social media, just to be “relatable”?

I don’t, is the short answer to that: and I’m pretty sure you don’t either, which is probably why we’ve arrived at the Instagram we have now – all themed feeds and carefully chosen photos. It’s a highlights reel rather than the story of our lives now, and once you’ve started down that road, it’s difficult to get off it. I, for instance, wrote this post, talking about how you totally don’t need to have an Instagram theme, because it ruins the spontaneity of the platform… and then, a few weeks later, I got myself an Instagram theme. D’oh. Now that I have it, I can’t quite bring myself to break it, either, because as much as I, too, miss the “good ol’ days”, where it truly was a record of people’s lives, I can’t help but notice that the flatlays and “themed” photos get more likes and comments than the “real” ones do, and if you TRULY don’t care about whether people like your content (both figuratively and literally), then you are a much better person than me, and I mean that in all sincerity.

I think Stories will help to change all of that, though. Like Snapchat, the photos and videos you upload to your “story” are only live for 24 hours: there are no comments, no “likes”, and they don’t become part of your grid – although there is the option to send individual photos to the grid if you want to. When I first started using Snapchat (which is EXACTLY the same), I found the temporary nature of it, plus the complete lack of feedback, pretty bizarre, really: as I got used to it, however, I found it really liberating to be able to post something without worrying about how many likes it would get, or whether it would look good in my “grid”… this is what makes Snapchat so interesting, I think. It’s much more real, much more spontaneous, and it’s basically like watching a reality TV show featuring your favourite bloggers, and other people you know – and who wouldn’t be interested in THAT? (If you just said that YOU wouldn’t be interested in that, I’ll just point out that you’re now 1,000 words into a blog post about Instagram Stories, so…)


The problem with Snapchat, though? For me, it’s that it’s kind of hard to use. I feel stupid even saying this, but I’ve had to Google almost everything I’ve ever tried to do on Snapchat, and I STILL constantly forget how to access various features.  I only follow a handful of people there, purely because there’s no easy way to find out who’s using it (You have to know the person’s Snapchat name in order to follow them, and to find out THAT, you mostly have to just rely on them mentioning it on Twitter or something), and I’m STILL cringing over that time I accidentally sent a snap of my own face to an extremely popular fashion blogger, who now probably thinks I’m some kind of psycho stalker. This is the kind of thing I’ll be having embarrassment flashbacks about for the rest of my life, seriously: and let’s not even talk about the time I realised I’d been sending all of my snaps, not to my “story”, as I’d thought, but to one specific person. (That time was known as “last week”, and I’ll probably never get over it…)

Because of all of this, I liked Snapchat, but I hardly ever used it: most of the time I’d completely forget I even had the thing, and then I’d remember, post a series of snaps of my dog, and then promptly forget about it again. I THINK I have around 50 followers, but then again, there’s no way to know that for sure without counting them all, and who has time for THAT? On Instagram, by contrast, I have 11,000 followers: I open up the app multiple times a day, and because I’m automatically given access to the Stories of everyone I’m following, I don’t need to search for user names, or feel like I’m the only one who didn’t get invited to the party of the decade. (Actually, I still do feel like that, but that’s par for the course with me, really…) I don’t really want to like it, because it’s still basically just stealing at the end of the day, but so far I’ve been really enjoying watching everyone’s stories and creating my own – and I think I’ll like it even more once the furore dies down, and all of the stories stop being just one person after another pointing out that, hey, this is just like Snapchat! YA DON’T SAY!

Well, it IS like Snapchat… but I like it, and I think it could potentially be a bit of a game-changer for bloggers. Instagram is already huge, obviously, and, for some people, it’s become a complete replacement for blogging. Brands have been very enthusiastic about it – I now get quite a lot of requests for sponsored Instagram posts as well as blog posts – and because uploading an Instagram photo is so much easier than writing a blog post, bloggers have been quick to take advantage of that. My prediction is that Stories will encourage people to spend even more time on the platform (The day the feature launched, I ran my phone battery down twice – and I wasn’t even playing Pokemon Go that day, either!), and that will, of course, make it more valuable to sponsors. I already get quite a few people approaching me about featuring things on Snapchat, even although I hardly ever use it, and only have… however many followers I have… and I can see the same thing happening here. I like the fact that Stories allow you to get back to the original premise of Instagram – real-time documentation of your life – without worrying about flooding your followers’ timelines, or messing up your “grid”. And, yes, I’ve apparently become the kind of person who talks very seriously about her “grid”: I kind of hate myself right now, not gonna lie.

There is, however, one thing I’ll miss from Snapchat:

butterfly crown selfie

Filter? WHAT filter? No, I ACTUALLY have butterflies flying around my head all the time, like an Elven princess. Doesn’t everyone?

[P.S. If you want to see too many videos of me opening my mail, and deciding what to wear every day, you can follow my Instagram Story here.]
  • I find myself also really loving Instagram stories, just for the fact that my estranged niece watches my updates and it nice to know I can say hi to her without being to verbal about it. The problem with my niece is a long complicated story and I have problem contacting her directly just to say hi, I do miss her terribly so it nice to know she still watches over me.

    August 7, 2016
  • I could never really figure out Snapchat. I also didn’t try very hard. It just always seemed like one more thing to do for which I didn’t have time. I like Instagram stories because they are right there (and I was able to figure out how to use them… ?). It’s fun seeing people’s un(less)-edited lives!

    I started reading your book and love it! When you wrote that one thing you always knew was that you are a writer, I thought: Yes. And one I LOVE to read. I usually read your blog on my phone (like now) and don’t often comment, but I so very much enjoy your writing!

    August 7, 2016
  • Deva


    Instagram should have sponsored this post. I was really annoyed by it but after reading this I’m clicking on everything trying to find Stories (updated the app and everything).

    August 7, 2016
  • I’ve actually found you first on Instagram and only recently started reading your blog 🙂 Now I know I’ll be coming back.

    I’m not going to lie – I unfollow people on Instagram if they post uninteresting, blurry photos. Does it mean I like to see only beautiful parts of people’s lives? Mostly, yes! That’s why I love Instagram – it provides me with inspiration, and seeing people in day-to-day situations that we all experience isn’t very interesting. I loved what you said about having guests in our homes – obviously we want them to see pretty and clean house. It’s such a good example! However, it’s nice to see how all these “perfect” people of Instagram look and live for real, so that’s why I think I may like the Stories feature (even though I haven’t tried it yet.) I’ve never had Snapchat, because I didn’t want one more platform to have to focus on, but as Stories are part of Instagram, maybe I’ll like it.

    August 7, 2016
  • Nicola


    Great post! I’ve tried to get into Snapchat a few times and I just couldn’t, although I did enjoy the filters. I probably still won’t post Instagram stories, but I’ll definitely be looking at other peoples!

    Nicola //

    August 7, 2016
  • oh God I’m so glad you said you find Snapchat difficult to use, I just dont get it BUT I’ve had a little play with Instagram stories and I think I like it. It’s much easier to use, already built into an app I use quite a lot and it just gives a little variation from the staged photos (which I love looking at btw). So it suits me.

    I’m seeing a lot of people complaining about Instagram lately, that their engagements drops etc. Well I am actually really loving it at the moment. It just means you actually have to put a bit more effort in for the “rewards”, their algorithm works brilliantly for me, I find so many new and inspiring accounts on there. So yeah, woo Instagram! xx

    August 7, 2016
  • Instagram took the best part of Snapchat and made it better, and by better I mean not changing it at all just adding it to Instagram. Instagram is just way easier to understand! I have my snapchat for friends who refuse to use Instagram (whyyyyy do you guys hate me) but Instagram will always be my default social app.

    I understand why you would care so much about your grid, those photos are part of your business, of course, the amount of likes are important! Though I will admit I do get a bit sore when my sisters poorly lit 1000th cat photo gets more likes than my carefully thought out ones.

    August 7, 2016
  • This was such an interesting read – I was a little bit on the fence about this but you have encouraged me to download the update and check it out! xSophie Cliff

    August 8, 2016
  • When snapchat came out I refused to use it, and never did! I feel overwhelmed by all of the social media platforms bloggers are expected to use as it is, so I wasn’t going to add another one to the list. When instagram stories came out I groaned about how now I will “have” to use it since I already have instagram. So I was pretty shocked when I realised I actually really freaking LOVE IT. I am not normally active on instagram because I worry about clogging my feed with stuff that isn’t perfect and making everyone hate me, but instagram stories means I can just post whatever I feel like and not worry. I love how real it is!

    August 8, 2016
  • I l o v e your Instagram stories! I was kind of a bit torn between whether I wanted to use it or not but the points you have mentioned are soo true and I’m definitely going to start using it now 🙂 xo

    Char |

    August 8, 2016
  • Hahaa I love this!! I have also been loving the new Instagram Stories! But I miss the filters!! Great post x

    August 8, 2016
  • I love this post! I totally share your enthusiasm for stories and agree that the reach it’ll bring will be far more than Snapchat. I work in social media and marketing and I struggle to build a decent snapchat community but i work with a thriving Instagram community and to be able to bring this new, more real, more social content is really exciting!

    August 8, 2016
  • I have been anti-Snapchat since the beginning but definitely feel like Instagram Stories are something I could get into. I agree it’s all about the ease of use and the fact that it’s built into one of my more successful social media platforms is very attractive. Great post!

    August 8, 2016
  • I have loved Snapchat for the old “chill & real” vibe that Insta used to have before all the 3-P feeds came along (pretty, polished, professional) ~ but like yourself I do love a good 3-P shot on Instagram, and once you are down that theme rabbit hole, you just can’t stop…

    Honestly, InstaStories is just as good as Snapchat; and though I do love a good Snapchat filter, I wouldn’t at all be surprised if they come out with filters soon. It will be a thing given how blatantly they’ve already ripped off Snapchat. On one hand I really want to be mad at Instagram for doing that; it really makes me cringe as an artist… I mean, it’s just another case of a huge corporation getting away with steal someone else’s work! buuuttttt…. I love that my audience is already there; it’s a one-stop social media platform, and let’s be honest, it’s made Instagram actually fun again, and not just work. *sigh* I’m so conflicted! :S

    bonita of Lavender & Twill

    August 9, 2016
  • I am ABSOLUTELY obsessed with instagram stories, I swear half my life is on there! I was never a fan of snapchat, but I love all the new features which have come out for insta. I’m desperate to get to 10k for the swipe up feature but I am literally no where near that yet!

    Charlotte | Two Cats One Flat

    November 6, 2017